What's an extended electronic horizon?

* Technology controls car's speed * Reads the roads and environment * We take a test drive...

What's an extended electronic horizon?

It's something that automotive engineering experts at Ricardo have been working on for the past 15 months, along with mobile phone company Orange, map wizards at the Ordnance Survey, TRL and Jaguar Land Rover.

The system works by combining a global positioning system with internet-based mobile phone communication and ultra-detailed maps to give cars a virtual pair of eyes on the road ahead, and what's around the next corner.

The development system is fitted to a Ford Escape hybrid, a US SUV, and provides the car with information on corners, slopes, junctions, traffic congestion and other potential hazards such as traffic lights, roundabouts and pedestrian crossings.

Enter your route into the satellite-navigation system, flip on the cruise control and the car of the future could adjust your speed for every twist, turn and speed bump on your journey.

What Sentience does and doesn't do?
Even though a Sentience-equipped car could pinpoint a vehicle's location to within a few centimetres there are limits to what it can do.

While it takes full control of your speed from 9mph upwards, it doesn't bring your car to a complete halt, it doesn't detect other road users and it doesn't steer.

So, you'll still need to keep your wits about you to avoid pedestrians, cyclists and other cars - we're not completely redundant just yet.